Backyard BBQ Recipes: BLT Pasta Salad

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping you all had a great weekend!

Before I dive right into my e-mails, early morning meetings and phone calls at the office- I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe I tried out this past weekend for an afternoon cookout at a friend’s house (the first of many this coming season, I’m sure!)

I’m a big fan of the simplicity of BLTs for lunch- but I also think a backyard BBQ isn’t quite the same without a chilled pasta salad available as a side. This recipe combines the two- the minimal ingredients of the sandwich but with a more filling pasta substituted in place of the bread and a bit more flavor with a creamy and tangy dressing mixed in. Add some avocado and you’ve got yourself a hit for your next early-Summer gathering!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound pasta (your choice! I used penne.)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet; season generously with black pepper. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the pan from the oven and cool completely.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, tomato, avocado and romaine. Crumble the bacon into the salad.
  5. If serving immediately, add the dressing and toss well to coat. Or leave undressed and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

This pasta salad was so good- and was a fun and flavorful spin on the usual macaroni salads I typically see at cookouts and backyard BBQs. Any leftovers (and there wasn’t much!) were placed back in an airtight container and refrigerated- and tasted just as good on Sunday during an indoor lunch when the weather didn’t hold out as planned.

I’m thinking I’ll be making another batch of this for my co-workers when we have our pre-Memorial Day weekend luncheon in a couple of weeks. Anything with bacon and avocado is sure to be a hit!

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! Let’s make it to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Super Bowl Snacks: Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Happy Friday, everyone! Today is my last day at work before I head off to Las Vegas overnight- and we’re all celebrating with a little pre-Super Bowl food day/party before Sunday’s big game. I admit, it’s going to be a bit strange not being in Boston to watch it at any of the usual bars or pubs- but I’m hoping I can find some Patriots fans in Sin City to party with. We’ll see how that goes!

Before I head off to the airport, though- I wanted to share a 15-minute recipe for those of you who may be heading to Super Bowl parties of your own this weekend and are looking for something quick, easy and delicious to serve up to your friends (or rival fans).

Behold, the pulled buffalo chicken sliders- a spicy and fun take on traditional cheeseburger sliders. If you love buffalo sauce or blue cheese as much as I do- then these are for you!

The measurements below make 8 servings, so modify as needed depending on how many people you’re going to be feeding!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 16 slider rolls, halved
  • ¾ cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 6 leaves butter lettuce, roughly torn

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the buffalo sauce. Remove from the heat.
  2. In large bowl, toss the chicken and celery to combine. Add the sauce and toss to coat.
  3. Build sliders with the chicken mixture, blue cheese and lettuce.

An incredibly simple recipe that doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and still serves up a ton of fantastic flavors? Yeah- this is definitely one of my favorites. As much as I enjoy stuffing my face with wings and nachos- these are a bit more filling without leaving sauce or grease all over my face and fingers (or the feeling of guilt when I’ve eaten one too many.) 

Here’s wishing the best of luck to the Pats. I’d love nothing more than to return home in time to head back out to my city’s celebratory Rolling Rally if they can pull off another win!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone. I’ll be back to regular posting next week- and feel free to peep my INSTAGRAM to follow my adventures from Vegas! It’s shaping up to be a blast- and I’m just happy to be returning somewhere warm and sunny for a few days!

xx

– Ashley –

Side Dish: Stuffin’ Muffins

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve made it through another week and it’s time for the final stretch before the holiday season is officially underway. You know the markets and grocery stores are going to be packed this weekend with people picking up their last minute Turkey Day necessities- so be careful out there!

Continuing with my brief series of Thanksgiving-inspired recipes leading up to next Thursday, I wanted to move on from the starters/appetizers and onto a fun and easy side dish you can serve your guests that is not only full of flavor- but is also perfectly proportioned where everyone will get a fair amount, too!

Meet “Stuffin’ Muffins”- the mess-free, compact and convenient way to enjoy a classic recipe.

These measurements make 12 muffins- so adjust accordingly depending on how many people you plan to feed!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • ½ loaf crusty bread, cut into small (⅓-inch) cubes
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ cups turkey, chicken or vegetable broth

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  3. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Stir in the parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the onion and celery mixture over the bread and toss well to combine. Add the broth and toss well to coat. Let the mixture sit 10 to 15 minutes to absorb the liquid, tossing occasionally.
  6. Divide the stuffing evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops are golden brown and crusty, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving warm.

Warm, buttery, and crumbly with a kick of spice- these muffins are the perfect pairing to your ham/turkey/tofurkey and vegetables. They’re just the right amount of stuffing to keep you from feeling overly- well, stuffed- and they’re just as great to store for leftovers, too!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Next week I’ll be sharing a really fantastic dessert recipe to wrap up my Thanksgiving series- and I’ve got some fun changes coming to Blondie Birdie, too!

xx

– Ashley –

Comfort Food: Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread with Tomatoes and Green Onions

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I know it’s pretty hot around here lately (and probably everywhere else, too!) but I’ve got another skillet recipe for you all if you can stand a little extra heat in your kitchen for about 30-45 minutes. I promise that it’ll be worth it, though. This recipe is a good one!

I love cornbread- especially when it’s homemade and served hot- but sometimes it can taste a little dry or bland all by itself. When I saw this slightly modified version, which loads up the classic recipe with a couple of different flavors and textures in the form of some unexpected vegetables instead of just corn kernels- which I’ve seen done in the past- I knew I had to give it a try.

I served this as a side dish with a meal I prepared for friends this past weekend as a substitute for standard dinner rolls, and it went over really well!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease an oven-safe 9-inch skillet with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt to combine. Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk, cooled melted butter and eggs; whisk well.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth into an even layer.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes with the scallions, olive oil, salt and pepper to combine. Pour the tomato mixture on top of the corn bread batter.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the corn bread comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

This cornbread was rich and that m word that ends in “oist” that I refuse to say because it’s one of the worst words in the English language- but this WAS that word. The onions and the tomatoes were also still juicy after cooking this up and gave each bite some additional flavors that were much-appreciated. I’d like to try making this again and maybe add some green peppers to the recipe, as well.

I had a small amount left over that I’ll be enjoying for a mid-morning snack in a couple of hours, since this cornbread is appropriate for any time of day!

xx

– Ashley –